Thursday, August 16, 2012

In-Depth Review: Darksiders II: Collector’s Edition (THQshop Pre-Order) for the PS3

Note: This is a review for the Edition’s extra contents and not the game itself.

I have been looking forward to this one for a long time. Let’s see if it was worth the wait.

What’s included:
1) Darksiders II: Limited Edition
2) Death Mask
3) Artbook
4) Soundtrack
5) Various forms of DLC

Digital River:
            Before I start the review, I wanted to get this out there. The Edition that I am reviewing was purchased through THQshop directly. The store’s billing and shipping are being taken care of by a company called Digital River. Digital River is a company that I have NEVER had a good experience with. My review is as late as it is because of Digital River. The shipment of Darksiders II from THQshop has been such a magnificent failure that many people are claiming they will never again buy from THQ directly. So long as THQ has Digital River handling its store, I will be one of those people.

The Enemy

The Display Box:
            The display box for the collector’s edition has a very tacky kind of cool going for it. It’s the kind of box design that makes it look like THQ wasn’t planning on selling out of these so quickly. I say this because the box prominently display’s the size and scale of the included mask to potential buyers. Imagine how wicked this thing would look on a Best Buy Shelf.

Who wouldn't want to own this?
            The inside of the box is purely functional. After Kingdom Heart’s 3D’s failed attempt at an intricate package, this is perfectly fine with me. I even like the action-figure style plastic blister that holds the mask in place.

Meat 'n' Potatoes packaging on the inside.

            So, to be clear, the box actually looks really cheesey. Even cheap. But I absolutely love it.

Art Book:
            I was VERY excited about the artbook. I have been a fan of Joe Mad’s artwork since he was working on Marvel’s X-men during the Age of Apocalypse storyline. In regards to the quality of the art being presented, I was not disappointed. Even though Joe’s art can be an acquired taste, for those that have acquired it, it is pure geek gold. The book contains completed and in-progress work for the game’s characters, weapons, and locations.


            The art is reproduced nicely with satin finished pages that are on a nice thick paper stock. The cover and back of the book have nice and appealing, yet slightly predictable, graphics. The book is hard bound and does not come with a page count but the internet claims that the book has 100 pages. I see no reason to doubt the internet’s claims here.

Decent Thickness
             All, however, is not well. There are two small problems with the book. The first problem is the book’s size (dimensions). It is very small. It’s about the size of a Playstation controller. This size problem greatly reduces one’s ability to better appreciate the art inside.

That's right, it's pretty small.
            The second problem is that the artbook actually includes an advertisement (at the end) for the Darksiders II artbook. This is a real slap in the face. Even for someone who loved the collector’s edition’s artbook, seeing an ad for a more complete product has the effect of making one feel duped. Nowhere was it ever said that the Collector’s Edition would include an Artbook Sampler, but this cheap promotional attempt makes it feel like that is exactly what has been included.

You're kidding, right?
            For those who are curious, Amazon has the new Artbook listed as having 200 pages. Twice the size in page length and, most likely, twice the size in length and width. Ouch.

            Bad news first. The included soundtrack is not actually on a disc. Instead of a nice and pretty art-covered disc, THQ provides a download code for digital redemption (more on that in the DLC section).

Wish it were a disc.

            The good news is that the soundtrack is a hefty 26 tracks long. It’s separated into two different discs and the music is actually quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, I still can’t ever see myself listening to the soundtrack from start to finish. I can’t even see myself listening to particular tracks. That is not a condemnation of the game’s musical score, though, as I have rarely seen the point of listening to game music on my free time.

All out of order, kind of.

            All in all, game soundtracks are becoming a staple in collector’s editions and even though this one is only included as a digital download, the large track list and quality Conan-esque tunes are a nice plus.

The Mask:
            This was THE reason to buy the Darksiders II Collector’s Edition. Was it worth those forty extra bucks? Not really… sort of.

            The first thing you notice about the mask is that it’s huge! I remember a while back, I got a free mask with my copy of Splatterhouse. In regards to paint application and size, this Death mask puts the old Splatterhouse one to shame.

Pad for scale

Vs. Splatterhouse Mask
The Death mask is big enough to actually wear. This is not to say that you can easily do such a thing. Cosplayers be warned, the mask does not have a place for you to have a nose. Because both sides (inside/outside) are actually sculpted and painted, there is no gap for your nose to go into. If you wanted to wear this as a mask, you’d have to cut a hole into the back and add some sort of straps to affix it to your head. It wouldn’t be hard to do this, but it would be nice if it weren’t an added step for people wanting to wear this really sick looking mask.

No nose hole.
            The paint applications on the mask are both good and terrible. From far away, they create a look of bleached and tattered bone. The effect is good. From close up, though, the paint applications are cheap and sloppy. Here’s the thing, though, it’s okay that it looks cheap and sloppy. Certain looks call for different kinds of paint application. Some looks require paint apps to be meticulously applied with little to no slop. Other looks, like the one on the mask, can be haphazardly done because they call for a more gritty or violent look and sloppy rushed application gives off that impression very well.

Look close enough and the paint looks real sloppy.
            In keeping with the smoke and mirrors of the mask’s paint, is it’s weight. This thing is light. It is light because it is made of very (I presume) cheap and hollow plastic. I don’t know if the cheap plastic was necessary in order to logistically include a life size replica, but I believe it probably was.
            The last part of the mask is the included display base. Like the mask, it has cheap paint and cheap hollow plastic. Unlike the mask, this part probably didn’t need to be done cheaply. A display base should feel sturdy and weighty. This one does not. It’s not all bad, though. At least it’s removeable and comes with sponges on the bottom to combat sliding around on one’s desktop.

Very Meh.
For to prevent sliding

            On the whole, the mask is an interesting piece of deception. It is a marvelous and intimidating full-scale replica that is hampered only by its need to be cheaply constructed. I gotta say, I like it.
DLC I (The DLC experience):
            Those of you who have been reading my reviews know that I’m not particularly fond of DLC inclusions for Collector’s Editions. I feel that way because it always appears as though the regular edition of a game was made worse in order to make the collector’s edition “better.” After making my way through the metaphorical swamp of Darksiders II’s DLC, though, I may never complain about any other form of DLC ever again.
            Let’s start by saying that I will be reviewing DLC that is not just for the collector’s edition of the game. This will be a review of most of the free DLC made available to Collector’s Edition purchasers. First, the list of available DLC used for this review:

1) Limited Edition Only (First Print Run Included in Collector’s Edition)
a)Crucible (game mode of some sort)
a) Argul’s Tomb (day 30 DLC expansion)

2) Collector’s Edition DLC
a) Soundtrack
b) Shadow of Death Pack (armor/scythe set)

3) THQ pre-order bonus
a) Season Pass (3 DLC expansions/ 2 considering limited edition contains Argul’s Tomb)
b) Makers Armor

4) Account Linking Bonus (
a) Van Der Schmash (weapon)
b) Mace Maximus (weapon)

That is a huge list of DLC. It’s the kind of list that, at first, seems like a great thing until you realize how difficult it will be acquire all of its contents. Most game releases with multiple DLC inclusions make use of 1 or 2 different codes to allow player access to content. With Darksiders II, such convenience is a thing of the past. Here we go.
In order to acquire the Crucible, Shadow of Death Pack and the Season Pass, all one needs to do is to input the code into the PS3’s XMB. This is the usual and preferred method. The Crucible code is written on the manual (see: pamphlet), the Shadow of Death Code was printed on an insert, and the Season Pass was emailed to customers on release day.


These used to be manuals.

In order to acquire Argul’s Tomb, users must input a code at and then register their email. Because the DLC does not come out for another month, the code for actual download of the DLC will be emailed to users when it is ready. So, the code for Argul’s Tomb is actually a code to register for a code. The code for a code is included on an insert in the Limited Edition.

If only it was as easy as just entering a code one time.
In order to access the soundtrack, users must insert the code at Upon doing so, a download automatically starts and you get your tunes. The only problem is that there seems to be no tag info on the MP3’s. Though the songs are listed by number, it is not much help as there are 2 discs to the soundtrack and there is no indication of which track 01 is from disc 1 and which track 01 is from disc 2. I had to cross reference with Amazon’s product page to find the correct track order.
            In order to access the Maker’s Armor, the user must go to the season pass section from the in-game menu (after having entered the season pass PSN code from earlier). Once the user has selected season pass from in-game, the game will take the user to the PSN store where they can download the armor set. Once done, the game quits and restarts. Meaning, to get the armor, you must enter a code into PSN, start the game and go to a special menu, get taken back to the PSN store to download it, and then get taken back the game after it restarts. Wow.
            To get the two THQ weapons, you must start the game and link/create an account with THQ. Once you do this, an email is sent to you containing two different links. For the Van Der Schmash, you go to and then register to get a PSN code that you use on the XMB to download your weapon. To get the Maximus, you go to and then register to get a PSN code that you can use on the XMB to download the weapon. So for these weapons, you play the game, register/link an account, receive an email with links for further registration, and then receive 2 codes to enter in the XMB. Again. Wow.
            After downloading all of this stuff, I didn’t even feel like playing the game. THQ’s handling of the DLC has been so over-convoluted and garbagish (new word) that if I gave scores to my reviews, this section would receive my first zero. The experience tarnishes the elation that one would normally feel after getting free stuff. 

DLC II (pending):
            I will be putting my review of the actual items in this section as soon as I have the time to use/assess them.


Drumroll please.
            Now for the big question. Is this Collector’s Edition worth a 40 dollar premium? For this section, I’m going to leave out all of the extra stuff that you get by ordering through THQshop because it’s now impossible to get the Season Pass deal and the sold out nature of this edition means that the secondary market is the only option for consumers on the fence.
            So, let’s recap what a secondary market would likely promise a potential buyer. You’d get the Limited Edition of the game, the Argul’s Tomb DLC, the Crucible DLC, The Shadow of Death DLC, the Death Mask, the soundtrack DLC and the Artbook (sampler). If you were to throw in the THQshop Season Pass (20 dollar value), this would be an obvious bargain of a Collector’s Edition, but without that 20 dollar buffer, it’s hard to say that this edition is a homerun for value.
            As it stands, the mask is the kind of mask you’d buy from a company like NECA for about 20 to 30 dollars. The artbook is the kind of book you could spend 12 to 15 dollars on and the soundtrack would set you back exactly 13.99 on iTunes. So, if you add all that up, you get about 45 bucks worth of merchandise for a 40 dollar premium. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly great either. Collector’s Editions are supposed to make you feel special and this edition, though it came with enough goodies to justify the price, did not succeed in making me feel like I received a truly special set.
            It was as though every positive aspect was quickly met by a negative aspect. The mask looked cool, but was cheaply made. The soundtrack was good, but poorly implemented with a lack of proper MP3 ID tags. The artbook was cool until I found out it was just a preview. The amount of DLC was a pleasant surprise until the poorly implemented delivery systems soured my perception of it. See. It’s all a bit of give and take.
            Deep down, I think this was a good collector’s edition that is worth the asking price (especially for fans), but I also think it could have been made so much better by just keeping the good intentions separated from the corporate nonsense that probably called for the use of account linking, middleman shipment companies, and advertisements stuck in my artbook. 

1 comment:

WViking said...

Great review. Keep them coming please.